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THE LOVE MATCH by Priyanka Taslim Kirkus Star


by Priyanka Taslim

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-66590-110-9
Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Zahra Khan finds herself in a real-life Bengali natok, or drama, when two handsome boys enter her life.

All Zahra really wants is to be a writer, but she must first navigate adulthood, love, and the Bengali community of Paterson, New Jersey. She has to put off college to work at local Pakistani tea shop Chai Ho to help her mother support their family, which has struggled financially ever since her father died two years ago. While Zahra focuses on making ends meet, her mother tries desperately to set her up with gorgeous, well-mannered Harun Emon, who is from a wealthy family—precisely what Zahra’s mom is looking for. The two 18-year-olds are not interested in one another, but they pretend to date to keep their parents satisfied. Meanwhile, Zahra is falling for new Chai Ho hire Nayim Aktar, a poor orphan and recent arrival from Bangladesh. As the pressures start building, Zahra finds herself at a crossroads: choose obligation or choose herself. Taslim’s descriptions of the Bengali community and her articulation of diverse Muslim identities and practices are authentic and nuanced. Details like waking up for Fajr prayer, halal dating, and inner turmoil over wanting physical intimacy describe genuine experiences. Topics like double standards in the South Asian community, the intersection of queer and Muslim identities, and the reality of the inaccessibility of higher education add depth to the novel.

Candid, textured, and amusing: a novel readers will devour in one sitting.

(Romance. 12-18)